An article recently published in New Scientist has highlighted the growing success in linking extreme weather events to the human contribution on climate change.
The methods used generally involve simulating the weather system and calculating the probability of the event happening, then comparing that to the same simulation with the human greenhouse gas emissions removed, as demonstrated by the recent droughts in Australia (Science Nutshell), as well as a European heat wave in 2003 which was concluded to have been made twice as likely by human emissions (Nature).
As detailed in the article, a more recent study has been carried out using real world data as opposed to artificially reconstructed models. This study in particular looked at the heavy rainfall in Oxford from late 2013 to 2014, which led to wide scale flooding. After running a suitable number of simulations, it was found that the flooding was made 25% more likely by human emissions.
The ultimate goal however, is to incorporate the effect of green house gas emissions into seasonal weather forecasts – so that the differences can be seen in real time as opposed to the past. An EU project called European Climate and Weather Events: Interpretation and Attribution (EUCLEIA) is attempting to put this into practice.
This goal is not only important in determining the effects of carbon emissions in the present, but in communicating to the public the reality of climate change. Scepticism amongst the public still remains high, with polls showing one in four Americans to be ‘solidly sceptical’ and only forty per cent as ‘concerned believers’ (Gallup). Assuming this trend continues worldwide, this is very worrying given that it is public opinion that shapes political policy, which is vital to combat climate change.
Original Article: New Scientist
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